Captain Steve Niemoeller is an expert at his craft. Running around Lake Toho in central Florida today, he consistently put us on spots that, despite the intense heat, produced a consistent bass bite. In total, Steve, his grandson and I picked four fish, three of which were right around a pound apiece, I mean when a guy is serious enough to create and craft his own custom baits, like Steve does with his Steel Shads, you know he’s pretty dialed into his fishery.
The Steel Shads are a blade bait that you can bend and tweak with a pair of pliars to alter and improve their motion. That’s the kind of thought process that produces a big bass guru. We were drifting larger shiners, about two to three inches long, along weed beds and grass lines in the lake, starting out at sunrise and fishing until about noon. But it was one of the final fish, at a spot Niemoeller claimed was a potential big bass location, that made my day and showed his skill as a guide. We were drifting along a slightly deeper hole with baitrunner reels, especially designed to let a largemouth fully inhale a bait before hookset, when this enormous bass proved Steve’s big-spot prediction correct.
This fish, which is my personal biggest to date, weighed in at 4.1 pounds, and in case you forgot, that’s four more dollars for the Melanoma Research Foundation. It took the shiner and made a straight run for at least 25 yards before I could put on the brakes. With its straight, powerful run, it almost felt more like a saltwater fish than any of the bass that I’d fought to date. I couldn’t stop smiling for the rest of the day and it’ll be a fish I’m talking about until… well, the next one. Despite the intense Florida heat in July and trying conditions, Niemoeller sent me home with the biggest bass of my life, and one that meant more than any I can remember, thanks to Buff.